Imagine my surprise one recent morning when I went into the backyard and spotted yardbird species #51 at the birdbath! A Black Phoebe took a quick drink and then flew off. I’ve never seen it since, wish I would, but it seems an unlikely place since I usually see them by bodies of water. I was glad it waited til I ran inside and grabbed my camera.
I was doubly surprised 2 days later to see a Say’s Phoebe diving for insects which was yardbird species #52! I see these birds often in parks but never in my yard. Once again, I have not seen it since. Phoebes are such pretty birds, I hope they visit again.
As if all that wasn’t exciting enough, a couple days later, I saw my favorite little bird, Tink (an Orange-crowned Warbler), return to our yard for the winter for the 5-6th season. At least I think and hope it was her. She seemed like the same bird, going back and forth between the 2 jelly feeders. I saw her for a few days and now have not seen her again for a few so I hope it was her and she plans to stay the winter. I don’t sit in my yard all day everyday so I could easily be missing her…I hope…I really wasn’t expecting her this year as I know they don’t live forever but, right on schedule, she returned…or so I think.
So those were exciting days! Here are a few of the Verdins who inhabit our yard all year…cute, tiny, and busy…
Verdins have roosting nests all year long. I think it’s where they sleep at night and hang out. The opening of the nests are on the side or bottom. Here is one leaving its nest in our pine tree:
They love jelly and oranges. Here they are in the little jelly house (click each to see larger):
An infrequent visitor to the yard is the Great-tailed Grackle. This female entertained me for awhile a few days ago and has been back since with another of her female friends:
They are loud, raucous, curious birds that are fun to watch. And those are some of the exciting goings-on in the backyard lately.
The above images of a Great Blue Heron and a tiny Verdin were taken at Indian School Park in Scottsdale where I had hoped to find a rarity reported there, a Magnolia Warbler, but did not. I actually do think I caught a fleeting glimpse of it from underneath but not enough to be sure so it will not be added to my life list. It was miserably hot so I sat in my car hoping someone else would come along and help me find it but no one did.
A few days later, it was slightly cooler in the morning so I met a friend while socially distanced at another park, Scottsdale Rotary Park. We sat and talked for a couple hours and I really only got these photos of a Say’s Phoebe:
As it warmed up, I stopped at one of my favorite parks, Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden, where I have found some lovely birds in the past. I didn’t stay too long because of the miserable heat we are still experiencing here in the Phoenix area but here are a few shots;
Like everyone else here, I can’t wait until it’s cool and I can at least go out to parks amidst this stupid pandemic…maybe next week.
Meanwhile, back at home, here are a few shots of doves, not my favorite birds although the little Inca Doves (first 2 shots) are sweet:
I escaped my quarantine the other day, in the late afternoon, for a couple of hours. I went to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve where I go about once a year. I should really go more often as there is an extreme diversity of all sorts of birds…water birds, songbirds, raptors, and always a rarity or 2. I went in pursuit of a rarity this time. I had seen literally hundreds of photos of a Roseate Spoonbill that has been there for a few weeks in my Facebook birding group. Most of the photos were so pretty, up close, so you could see its pink feathered fluffiness in detail. Well, I didn’t get there until about 4pm and I heard it had left for the day so I walked around looking, to no avail, but saw a lot of other birds. About 6pm, as it was getting dark, disappointed, I headed back to my car and saw it in a different pond than those it usually frequents! It was out quite a ways and it was getting dark so I didn’t get those pretty, detailed photos that I had seen from other people. But I saw it and it was awesome and it was a new life bird (lifer)! And I have proof:
It has giant black feet! This is not a bird that you find in Arizona normally. It likes Florida and Texas and other Gulf coasts. Actually, right now there are also 3 more of them at Glendale Recharge Ponds, too, on the completely opposite side of town. I would love to go see them and if it ever cools off here before they leave, I am going to go look for them, too.
But here are a few more of the birds I saw before finding it…
Great Blue Herons
This beautiful red amaranth was all over; I had never seen it there before.
Now for some songbirds…
Yellow-rumped Warblers (last photo indicates source of name)
Different than my yard birds! This makes me want to get back out there birding after this intense heat we have had, much longer than usual, and this horrible quarantine we’re in!!!! It was nice to have a change of scenery…
We’ve been very good during this loooooong quarantine, only doing essential shopping and initially walking in a closeby park, which we quit doing because there were plenty of social nondistancers. But one day last week I met a friend at Rotary Park in Scottsdale, where we sat six feet apart, and talked and watched the critters fly around and other people walk around. It was a lovely day and nice to have a break in the monotony.
We sat by the Butterfly Garden but only saw a couple of butterflies.
This little Lesser Goldfinch was the star of our visit, being very brave and seeming to enjoy our attention:
A good time was had by all. Then a few nights later, this was the Flower Supermoon, the last supermoon until April 2021:
And…just so I can file these 4 photos away, Tony and I went to Reach 11 in Phoenix right at the beginning of the quarantine. We easily socially distanced because there was hardly anyone around including birds and other animals:
Do you think life will ever be the “old normal” again? I don’t…
We went to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, northwest of Phoenix, last week. What I mostly wanted to see were the wild burros and we did! The herd is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and there are anywhere from 480-600 from what I’ve read. They are descendants of burros brought over from South Africa in the 1600s. 100 wild burros (jacks) were freeze marked and 55 jennies (female burros) were radio collared to help study and monitor the herd. Some are removed at times and put up for adoption while living and being cared for at a BLM facility. You can read more about this program here.
This is the trail we hiked to try to find them. We didn’t see any there but, fortunately, we saw them even before we started hiking. It was extra nice to see them with some wildflowers around; they looked especially cute frolicking through the flowers.
And we actually saw a few birds!
Red-winged Blackbird (female)
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (at least the flowers are in focus)
And a few other critters crossed our path:
Painted Lady Butterfly
Checkered White Butterfly
Common Side-blotched Lizard (check out his tongue!)
And we saw the lake, too, of course! This is a lake I used to go sailing on back in the mid-1980s…all the time…almost every weekend for 3-4 years. Since then it has been enlarged a lot so it didn’t really look at all familiar. The lake now covers 10,000 acres and is fed by the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct which diverts water from the Colorado River as well as the Agua Fria River. It was pretty cloudy when we were there and not many boats were on the lake.
New Waddell Dam
The new dam submerged the older, much smaller dam.
This is a 4 shot panorama of the lake. You can see a larger version of it on my Flickr. It was fascinating to see how the lake has changed, I loved everything we saw.